Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
119. Robin Hood and the Butcher

COME, all you brave gallants, and listen a while,
  That are in the bowers within;
For of Robin Hood, that archer good,
  A song I intend for to sing.

Upon a time it chancèd so
  Bold Robin in forrest did spy
A jolly butchèr, with a bonny fine mare,
  With his flesh to the market did hye.

‘Good morrow, good fellow!’ said jolly Robìn,
  ‘What food hast? tell unto me;        10
And thy trade to me tell, and where thou dost dwell,
  For I like well thy company.’

The butcher he answered jolly Robin:
  ‘No matter where I dwell;
For a butcher I am, and to Notingham        15
  I am going, my flesh to sell.’

‘What price thy flesh?’ said jolly Robin,
  ‘Come, tell it soon unto me;
And the price of thy mare, be she never so dear,
  For a butcher fain would I be.’        20

‘The price of my flesh,’ the butcher repli’d,
  ‘I soon will tell unto thee;
With my bonny mare, and they are not dear,
  Four mark thou must give unto me.’

‘Four mark I will give thee,’ saith jolly Robìn,
  ‘Four mark it shall be thy fee;
Thy mony come count, and let me mount,
  For a butcher I fain would be.’

Now Robin he is to Notingham gone,
  His butcher’s trade for to begin;        30
With good intent, to the Sheriff he went,
  And there he took up his inn.

When other butchers they opened their meat,
  Bold Robin he then begun;
But how for to sell he knew not well,        35
  For a butcher he was but young.

When other butchers no meat could sell,
  Robin got both gold and fee;
For he sold more meat for one peny
  Than others could do for three.        40

But when he sold his meat so fast,
  No butcher by him could thrive;
For he sold more meat for one peny
  Than others could do for five.

Which made the butchers of Notingham
  To study as they did stand,
Saying, surely he was some prodigal,
  That had sold his father’s land.

The butchers they stepped to jolly Robin,
  Acquainted with him for to be;        50
‘Come, brother,’ one said, ‘we be all of one trade,
  Come, will you go dine with me?’

‘Accurst of his heart,’ said jolly Robìn,
  ‘That a butcher doth deny!
I will go with you, my brethren true,        55
  And as fast as I can hie.’

But when to the Sheriff’s house they came,
  To dinner they hied apace,
And Robin Hood he the man must be
  Before them all to say grace.        60

‘Pray God bless us all,’ said jolly Robìn,
  ‘And our meat within this place;
A cup of sack good, to nourish our blood,
  And so I do end my grace.

‘Come fill us more wine,’ said jolly Robìn,
  ‘Let us merry be while we do stay;
For wine and good cheer, be it never so dear,
  I vow I the reck’ning will pay.

‘Come, brothers, be merry,’ said jolly Robìn,
  ‘Let us drink, and never give o’er;        70
For the shot I will pay, ere I go my way,
  If it cost me five pounds and more.’

‘This is a mad blade,’ the butchers then said;
  Says the Sheríff, ‘He’s some prodigal,
That his land has sold, for silver and gold,        75
  And meaneth to spend it all.’

‘Hast thou any horn-beasts,’ the Sheriff inquired,
  ‘Good fellow, to sell unto me?’—
‘Yea, a plenty I have, good Master Sheriff,
  I have hundreds two or three.        80

‘And a hundred acre of good free land,
  An it please you go for to see;
And I’le make you as good assurance of it
  As ever my father made me.’

The Sheriff he saddled a good palfrèy,
  With three hundred pound in gold,
And away he went with bold Robin Hood,
  His hornèd beasts to behold.

Away then the Sheriff and Robin did ride,
  To the forest of merry Sherwood;        90
Then the Sheriff did say, ‘God bless us this day
  From a man they call Robin Hood!’

But when that a little further they came,
  Bold Robin he chanced to spy
A hundred head of the good red deer,        95
  Come tripping the Sheriff full nigh.

‘How like you my horn’d beasts, Master Sheriff?
  They be fat and fair for to see;’
‘I tell thee, good fellow, I would I were gone,
  For I like not thy company.’        100

Then Robin he set his horn to his mouth,
  And blew but blastès three;
Then quickly anon there came Little John,
  And all his company.

‘What is your will?’ then said Little John,
  ‘Good master come tell it to me;’
‘I have brought hither the Sheriff of Notingham,
  This day to dine with thee.’

‘He is welcome to me,’ then said Little John,
  ‘I hope he will honestly pay;        110
I know he has gold, if it be but well told,
  Will serve us to drink a whole day.’

Robin Hood took his mantle from his back,
  And laid it upon the ground,
And out of the Sheriff’s portmantle        115
  He told three hundred pound.

Then Robin he brought him thorow the wood,
  Set him on his dapple gray:
‘O have me commended, good sir, to your wife!’
  So Robin went laughing away.        120


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